How to convert an 8 MM video cassette to digital

Written by alexis lawrence
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How to convert an 8 MM video cassette to digital
8mm video cassettes store between 60 and 120 minutes of footage. (8mm image by Randy McKown from

Before digital video camcorders could capture directly to built-in hard drives, nearly all camcorders used 8mm video cassettes to store video footage. These cassettes, much like VHS tapes, deteriorate over time, and unless you capture the video to another format, you may eventually lose the footage. One way to protect the video footage on an 8mm cassette is to convert the video to a digital format that won't deteriorate. You can store digital video on the hard drive of your computer once converted.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • 8mm video cassette
  • 8mm video camcorder
  • Interface cord

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  1. 1

    Connect the video camcorder used to capture the 8mm video cassette to the computer using the interface cord provided with the camera. Generally, this cord is a firewire that plugs into only one port on the camera and plugs into the firewire port on the computer. If you do not have the camera used to record the video cassette, you must have another camcorder that uses 8mm video cassettes.

  2. 2

    Plug the camera in, or make sure the battery is attached, and turn the power dial on the camcorder to the "Playback" or "VCR" mode. When the video camera comes on, the playback functions are available and the recording functions are disabled.

  3. 3

    Open any video-editing application that can capture video on your computer. On a PC, Windows Movie Maker is the native capturing application. On a Mac, iMovie is native.

  4. 4

    Go to the import function in the video-editing application. Access the import function in Movie Maker by clicking the "File" menu and choosing "Import from digital video camera." Switch to import in iMovie by moving the blue toggle at the bottom of the screen so that it is under the camera icon.

  5. 5

    Enter a name for the video you are capturing when prompted. Select the folder that you want to save the captured video into by clicking "Browse" and navigating to the folder. Then, click "OK" or "Next."

  6. 6

    Press "Start" on the camcorder to begin playing the tape and press "Start Capture" or "Start Import" in the capturing program to begin recording the footage. Once the tape has finished playing, press "Stop Capture" or "Stop Import" to stop recording the footage. Then, click "Finish" if prompted. The file saves as a digital video file on the computer's hard drive.

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